Last weekend, I had the opportunity to briefly shoot with the new Leica X Typ 113. As you folks will know, it's essentially the X Vario body with a 23mm f1.7 lens, giving it a 35mm field of view. Normally, I'd illustrate a post like this with all sorts of sample images, but nothing I took was worth showing, photographically. Handling feels very nice indeed, much more like a film Leica M body than the thicker digital M cameras. My thumb slipped instinctively into the thumb groove, which makes it the first camera with which this has happened, and you know I've had a LOT of cameras! The body is lighter than I expected, and almost a little hollow. The lens barrel is thicker than I expected, and invites you to shoot with both hands, making it feel like a 'proper camera'. The barrel is twice as long as that of the Fuji X100, which may make me a little more conscious of it if wearing it across my shoulder or neck. Manual focus is smooth and easy, going from the Autofocus detent straight into manual focus when you want. The dials and buttons are more hit and miss. The shutter speed and aperture dials are solidly made and reasonably firm, but not as firm as I'd like. The buttons on the back feel very easy to press, so I'd prefer to use a leather half case to help prevent them being accidentally pressed. The shooting experience is not quite what I was hoping for, but satisfactory. Autofocus in bright daylight is reasonably quick, but the Ricoh GR and Fuji X100 with latest firmware, which I had with me for comparison, were faster. The Ricoh GR is noticeably faster, whereas the X 113 felt like it had to hunt a bit. I also noticed a time when I had to refocus three or four times to get the spot I wanted, unlike the GR and X100. I was using one-point field AF at the time, so maybe the spot AF function may have worked better. A lot has been said about the variable aperture, which starts to stop down from f1.7 to f2.8, starting at 1m. Leica says that this is to keep image quality optimal at all shooting distances, but a number of people are disappointed at not being able to use the lens at f1.7 all the way to the closest focus distance of 20cm. Having tried it at varying distances, I can say that unless you want sliver-thin DoF up close, or want to shoot at lower ISO's while freezing movement, the variable aperture is not a problem. The 113 closes the aperture to f2 for subjects at 1m, and at f2, the X 113's lens has no glow or softness, unlike the Fuji X100. At closer distances, it closes further, down to f2.8 from 40cm and closer. Much has also been said after the DPReview test samples were load into their comparometer, with only the centre being sharp, and the rest of the image being soft. I didn't take any test images that would show this, so I don't know at this stage. As for image quality, which is the real test for a camera from a much vaunted company: unlike many, I am NOT a fan of how Leica's default jpegs are rendered. I find them flat and uninteresting, and always process raws in Lightroom. Using Lightroom 4.4, not only was I able to easily process the raw files, but found them to have very nice colour qualities, particularly skin tones. White balance was very accurate, too. I was surprised to find that the X 113 produced skin tones that I liked much more easily than the Fuji X100 or the Ricoh GR, or even the Panasonic GM1 and Oly 25/1.8, which I am really enjoying. However, when processed in Lightroom, the files seemed to lack 'something', perhaps a kind of depth or richness that I find in files from the Leica M9, Ricoh GR, and even the GXR. I suspect this may have something to do with the AA filter, as the Ricoh GR uses the same sensor but the files have much more 'bite'. I've just begun to play with the files in Raw Therapee, but since I am quite unfamiliar with this program, I'm finding it clunky. I've been using Lightroom since 2009 and everything I shoot goes through it. But the colour from Raw Therapee at default looks even better than Lightroom, and the files have a bit more bite, so this bears more exploration. To wrap up: handling good, operation is reasonable, variable aperture not really an issue, and file quality is still on the fence between, 'Yeah, I'd go with that' and 'do I really want to spend AUD$2700 on this?' The file quality is good but not so good that I want to throw cash on the table just yet. The files I'm beginning to see come out of Raw Therapee don't give me that 'oh wow' feeling like I get from the GR on a good day, or the Sigma DP1 when processed with Sigma Photo Pro. I don't expect the X 113 files to look like M9 files - although it would be very nice - but I'd like them to please me as much as the GR or Sigma DP1, at least. If they gave me that feeling, I'd be throwing money at Leica right now. The jury is still out for the moment.